So – the thing I think people really need right now is a weekend. If you really want to make sure you are ready for the holiday season, remember that this weekend is the last one that is definitely yours, and not as likely to be taken up with special shopping trips, gift-making parties, or other seasonal preparations. Even the moments that are not specifically spoken for are likely to be filled with stress thinking about all that has to be done.
Or is it?
I mean, do you really want this year to be different? Think a second. How do you want it to be different? Maybe you still want to do all the things you normally do, but you want less stress. Perhaps you want to continue giving, but spend within your budget more, or send more cards than last year, both of these options actually require more work and time than last year.
Relax a minute.
All of this is only thinking. It is just a thought. You are not actually doing the shopping, planning anything, or in the rush yet, remember?
This year, I think one of the best things you can do is plan specific time for yourself, to relax and come back to this calm mind that is clear about what is real right now, and not rushing ahead. Give yourself mental space through a practice of meditation. Even 5 minutes in the middle of the day can make such a huge difference. If you work on it from now until the end of November, by the time December starts, you will already be used to it, and maybe even enjoy it a little.
How to meditate:
1. Find a place to sit where there are limited noises and distractions. Turn of the sound on phones and other devices. Don’t worry, you will get the messages in a few minutes. This time is for your mental health. Everyone benefits from your taking this time.
2. Sit down. You can sit on the floor, on a pillow or cushion, or in a chair if you experience difficulty or pain sitting on the floor or moving between floor and standing. Just sit.
3. Set an egg timer or use an app (I like the Zen Meditation Timer). Set it for 5 minutes (If you are experienced, add 5 minutes to your normal time to help deepen your practice during this season).
3. Close the eyes.
4. Breathe. You may count, or mentally think “in” when you breathe in and “out when you breathe out. You can also use any tradition you have been taught before. Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims and all religious groups have strong traditions for prayer and meditation. I would encourage you to use this time to move into your own personal tradition with this time. If you need resources, send me a note.
5. Remain there. This is the most basic part. Observe what your mind does. Does it try to convince you you can’t? Don’t fall for it. Does the mind start thinking up more things to do? Don’t let yourself get fooled. You will be just as capable of thinking of things to do later. This is your time. Offer it to yourself as a thank you for all the work you have done this year. Offer it as a prayer for a more calm season. Offer it as a prayer for peace.
6. When the timer sounds, say a quick thank you to yourself for taking this time on behalf of all the people you will meet later today. You have made a big step towards your own inner peace, regardless of how it went. Then slowly get up and return to your day.
7. Agree to do it tomorrow and schedule it.
I hope you will begin this practice this weekend for the kindness it provides in the world and the calm I know it will bring you. If you have any trouble, drop me a note. I will be happy to offer any pointers I can along the way. Your doing this practice is actually a service to others as much as it is a service to yourself. Enjoy making this practice special in any way that feels right to you.
Have a wonderful and peace-filled weekend!